Coming to a new country, trying to figure out what would be good to start with and a brand new mother. It seems difficult to jump out of the box and take a step further. But, I have to and I am.
Someone recently asked me “So! What was your profession back home?”
My immediate reply was……a blank face.
I paused, and I paused for a while.
It was rather a long pause before I answered.
It is not that I don’t know what my profession was and how much experience I had in my field. It was more about how should I describe myself with that experience. My pause was because I really didn’t have the right answer to give.
Having spent seven years of career in core journalism, I never saw myself as a smart, intelligent and vigorous journalist. I thought I am just a soft story writer, a press-release translator, and further a mere sub-editor, writing for a regional newspaper as leisure. I enjoyed my work. I was happy. My love for nature and wildlife received a platform.
Most of my stories started coming from the environment.
But, during that entire span, I don’t remember even a single incident, which made anyone afraid of me or see me with that exclamation mark “Oh! Just hide out everything, all papers, don’t talk much. She is a journalist!”
I was always welcomed and softly respected as though, I am just a simple-hearted, average minded writer. They had just positive sides. And my circle of informers had only good things to show. For anyone, I was not a good journalist to be seen with fear because I was no harm to anyone.
On the other hand, I often wonder how my co-workers in a small town in India enjoy being called smart, jackal minded clever and witty journalists. They are powered by sensational news and stings empowering themselves with ego for no good reason. District Collectors, Superintend of Police and entire bureaucrats are either irritated, troubled or favored by them. They would sit sipping cups of tea together, gossiping around and sharing tobacco pouches as a Macho feeling.
Till date, I cannot understand how that journalism is practiced. Maybe I am too unwise for that part. So the result was, I never received the recognition among the masses. Very few knew me and readme.
And nowadays, India is talking about #Presstitutes. It seems Indians are fed up with proliferated media houses and the media hype. There is now nothing left like real journalism, as everything seems to be a paid propaganda. Moreover, even smallest of the cities in India have more than 20 local newspapers.
The Wikipedia says India has more than 70,000 newspapers and over 690 satellite channels (more than 80 are news channels) and is the biggest newspaper market in the world – over 100 million copies sold each day.
Did you read it right…? MORE THEN 80 NEWS CHANNELS. Now, that is the official number and everyone knows, these numbers might be larger than as shown. But we shall talk about this some other day.
For the meantime, I have a bigger task to do. I still have to search an answer for myself as the West working culture is teaching me to be self-centered. This is so mean. I know. But however mean, I still have to do it for the sake of defining my profession.
I very well remember my senior secondary school days. It was a high time when my classmates and I were often inspired by our teachers to collect information regarding different careers and choose the path to walk on with life. We used to grab latest of the Chronicle magazines, the Yearbooks and read a lot of existing scenario and latest trends in careers.
During that time, I was lured towards Mass Media studies. My passion for writing good essays and giving compassionate audio delivery in school assemblies made me popular among batch mates as ‘Kalam waali Bai’ (The lady with Pen).
I saw this as a motivation to move on and choose journalism as my career. I started dreaming of working with Times of India, The Tribute, The Pioneer and freelancing with travel magazines.
But it was no sooner than in the days of my Master Degree program in Mass Communication and Journalism, I realized, journalism is no more about writing good articles and features. That has become history. Presently, it is more about marketing ideas, bargaining opinions and the USPs (Unique Selling Proposition).
And I realized more about this fact when I officially started working as a reporter. I felt I was in a fix. I had no way of returning back. I had no idea of how advertisements work under the cover of journalism. So, I chose to keep on writing irrespective of brand imaging myself as a journalist. I was still the same kalam waali bai.
Basically, I was a writer in disguise of a journalist. I chose that rather than wearing a mask for the advertiser. I was working the traditional way of journalism, maybe the pre-independence way. This is closer to what I should have replied to the question asked.